Drifting Apart Together

Life is such that there is no vacuum. We grow and stretch to cover empty spaces. Even in the regular ebbs and flows of any given mundane day, other activities and preoccupations still seep into the crevices of nay open spaces in our lives. The same goes for our interactions as humans; In any given relationship, we are either growing or receding, expanding or contracting. You cannot pause a relationship, there’s no pause-mode, no standing still. We’re always either growing as partners or our partnerships are dying off.

With partners being two different people with different backgrounds and probably different outlooks and sometimes even desiring different things in life, the challenge becomes how to find enough common ground to keep growing and expanding together -is that even a plausible possibility or is it just a pipedream? That depends on the tenacity and patience of the people involved.

What if you have the same goals and similar desires, only you disagree on how to get there? You’re both ambitious but differ on the execution methodology and the timeline? For example, one partner might want to go back to school while the other might think they should buy a home first, or even that going back to school is indulgent and unnecessary. One partner chooses to care for a sick parent while the other focuses on business opportunities. The things that makes partners drift are countless. Mundane and countless, a myriad of issues.

The danger is when the partners don’t notice they are drifting, until suddenly there is a crisis that alerts them to just how unhappy one or both are. How does one fix years of neglect? How does one rebuke a demon they can’t identify? Who fights with darkness or air? And even more poignant, how does one fight when they too are hurting?

The truth is that the pain that stems from one partner rejecting another can scar us deeply. Everything is solvable for the spirit that’s willing, but that’s not always the case. For a partner to walk away, they are usually hurting too. They’ve contracted. They see no way out except for getting out of the partnership. How we react depends on whether we are inwards-looking versus outward-looking, and whether we are forward-facing or backward-facing.

If we are inward-looking, we will generally possess the ability to self-analyze and self-introspect and go within for answers. We are also bound to stay in the partnership and find solutions to patch up things from within the partnership. If we are outward-looking, more likely than not we will look for where to place the blame to the external of us and even go as far as abandoning the partnership to look for supposed greener pastures elsewhere.

If we are forward-facing, we will tend to look for hope up ahead, we strain to find signs that things will change for the better up ahead, that good things are just around the corner. We look at life as a whole book and consider the possibility that we might just be stuck on a bad chapter and that if we keep turning the pages we’ll get back to the good bits.

If we are backward-facing, we find ourselves completely unable to get beyond past hurts and keep rehashing about the wrong that was done to us, all the while apportioning blame to everyone but the self. We build a strong negative case against any hope that things could ever be different. We apply principles of confirmation bias (looking only for evidence that confirms what we believe) and reinforcement theory is activated as we start to look for evidence to corroborate what we already believe. With this selective perception, we find evidence to support our feelings of dissatisfaction with how things are. We moan, complain, blame and point fingers; and we abandon the union for supposed greener pastures.

Our locus of control (the degree to which people believe that they have control over the outcome of events in their lives) determines our reaction in moments of crisis. A person with an internal locus of control believes that he or she can influence events and their outcomes, while someone with an external locus of control blames outside forces for everything.’

To recap how we react in the face of a crisis moment. If we have an internal locus of control, we will be inward-looking and forward-facing, preferring to stay in the partnership and find solutions by self-analyzing, self-introspecting, and going within for answers, all the while holding on to hope that the good times are right around the corner. If we have an external locus of control, we will be outward-looking and backward-facing; unable to forgive and move forward, we will instead place blame and point fingers, eventually abandoning the partnership for greener pastures elsewhere.

The former is a defeatist and paralyzing victim-mentality while the latter is an empowering and hopeful victor-mentality. One robs us off of all our power leaving us bereft of all hope that anything will ever change while the other energizes us to look for solutions within as we believe we have more control over improving the situation.

It behooves us to know which one we are and which one our partners are:

  • Internal locus of control; inward-looking; forward-facing
  • External locus of control; outward-looking; backward-facing

Whichever one we are, our inclinations are down to our own peculiar propensities, mostly having to do with the values we hold, how we were raised, the examples we saw, the experiences we’ve had, and other character-building attributes we gain along the journey of life. Knowing our leanings will assist us in conflict resolution efforts.

Life is full of surprises and sometimes we have to deal with that which we did not want or expect to deal with. Yet we must consciously choose to honor a partner’s wishes when they feel so boxed in that they see no other option but to pull the plug. Life doesn’t stand still; it moves on along swiftly. And for us to keep growing we must keep up with it. Cheers, Grey xoxo

All pics taken by Mr. Grey in Hartford Connecticut

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